So Long, Sonic: Another GM Car Bites the Dust

This was a long time coming. In fact, Wednesday’s announcement of the discontinuation of the Chevrolet Sonic subcompact was expected to arrive by the end of last year, not halfway through the present one.

Regardless, the small hatchback and sedan that greeted buyers near the outset of the 2010s will not last more than a year into the 2020s. It’s dead come October.

Sad?

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Still Not Officially Discontinued, the Chevrolet Sonic's Days Are Numbered

One of the more vibrant paint choices for the 2020 Chevrolet Sonic is “Red Hot” — a name that most certainly does not accurately describe the Sonic’s U.S. sales.

Chevy’s Michigan-built subcompact remains in the Chevy lineup for the coming model year, joined by an Impala that sees its production end in January, and accompanied by the ghosts of the remaining unsold Cruzes littering lots after that model’s cancellation. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Chevy’s 2021 lineup contain just the Malibu, Spark, and Bolt in the non-sporty passenger car stable.

Why? Because, while General Motors chose to deep-six the Sonic in Mexico and Canada earlier this year, buyers apparently didn’t get the message that it remains on sale in the U.S.

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Something's Brewing at GM's Orion Assembly

In the same week Ford Motor Company announced a battery-electric product surge bound for a Michigan assembly plant, General Motors looks ready to announce the same. Coincidence?

Media reports suggest we’ll have an announcement from GM on its Orion Assembly facility by the end of the day.

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America's Subcompact Car Market Is Now Just Half the Size It Was Three Years Ago, and It's Falling Fast

America’s demand for subcompact cars tumbled 26 percent in 2018, yet another result that points to the eventual demise of all but a few B-segment cars.

2018’s sharp drop – equal to roughly 94,000 fewer sales in the core eight-car subcompact category – follows an equally harsh decline in 2017, when the segment lost more than 95,000 units. Led by a sharp reduction in sales of the top-selling Nissan Versa and year-over-year percentage declines of more than 29 per cent for the Chevrolet Sonic, Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent, Toyota Prius C, and Toyota Yaris, the category’s volume has fallen 48 percent since 2014.

And before you say, “Well, cars are all unpopular these days,” keep 2018’s five million-plus car buyers in mind. Car buyers do, in fact, still exist.

But subcompact car buyers are disappearing much, much faster than car buyers at large. And it may well be because the product execution of subcompact cars is really rather poor.

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UPDATED: Chevrolet Sonic Dead In Canada, Report Claims

As our previous story detailed, new car buyers are leaving the passenger car market in droves, so it’s not surprising to see automakers getting up and leaving the party. General Motors capped off 2018 by announcing its intention to drop six car models, leaving the fate of its remaining sedans and hatches in question.

North of the border, it seems a seventh model has disappeared before the other six even got a chance to get their coats and boots on. According to GM Authority, citing multiple sources familiar with GM’s operations, the Chevrolet Sonic’s life has come to an end in Canada. How long will it last in its home country of the United States?

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Returning Chevrolet Sonic Ditches an Unloved Engine

Chevrolet’s little Sonic hatchback and sedan, built alongside the electric Bolt at General Motors’ Orion Assembly Plant, will return for the 2019 model year with a notable powertrain change. We already knew a 2019 version of the Sonic — rumored to be on the chopping block — was a go (thanks to California Air Resources Board certification docs), but the contents of an order guide now show greater standard torque than the 2018 model.

Notice we said torque, not horsepower.

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Chevrolet Sonic Stages a Reappearance for 2019

Here today, gone tomorrow, back the next day. That’s basically the recent history of the Chevrolet Sonic, which formed the basis of a Wall Street Journal report earlier this spring. Chevrolet’s subcompact hatch and sedan could end production by the end of the year, the report stated, and the model’s subsequent disappearance from a 2019 model year California Air Resources Board certification document only added fuel to the rumor fire.

We reached out to GM about the Sonic’s CARB vanishing act, but never heard back. Now, the Michigan-built model has reappeared, promising a 2019 model year model for subcompact buyers.

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So Long, Sonic? Chevrolet Subcompact Said to Be on the Chopping Block

If a report by the Wall Street Journal ends up being true, General Motors will soon have an awfully lonely assembly plant on the edge of the Detroit suburbs. Sources familiar with GM’s product plans tell the publication the subcompact Chevrolet Sonic hatchback and sedan might be killed off as early as this year.

Small in size and powered by a brace of gas-sipping four-cylinders, the Sonic hit the market in late 2011. The model, produced at Orion Assembly in Michigan, came to be in the wake of the recession, offering buyers affordability and frugality with a “Made in America” stamp. In the ensuing years, however, buyers began moving on — and up — from small economy cars.

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Americans Are Turning Away From Subcompacts In Droves; Chevrolet Sonic Plant Shutdown Lengthened

American car buyers are increasingly turning their backs on subcompact cars.

During the first six months of 2017, the subcompact car losing the greatest number of sales is the Nissan Versa, which is suffering as Nissan realigns its dealer strategy to emphasize certified pre-owned cars.

But the subcompact car losing the second-highest number of sales is the Chevrolet Sonic, which has declined 37 percent this year (for a 10,334-unit decrease). In a continued attempt to dramatically reduce Sonic inventory — GM had a 159-day supply at the beginning of June; a 43-day supply at the beginning of July — GM is extending the scheduled plant shutdown at the Chevrolet Sonic’s Orion Township assembly plant north of Detroit, Michigan.

There are side effects from such a shutdown, an aftertaste following the swallowing of a bitter pill, spin-offs from a show nobody was watching to begin with.

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Ask Bark: Bad Cars That Are Actually Good

Thom writes:

Hi Bark,

Your RC F article got me wondering: what are some of the cars out there you think are actually good, enjoyable cars that get crapped on for no good reason other than inherent bias and/or groupthink in the automotive world?

I always wonder what’s out there that’s actually decent, if not outright good, that everyone seems to think is garbage. (Notwithstanding that sometimes everyone thinks a car is garbage because it actually is.)

This is gonna be fun.

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After Sales Tanked in May, GM Becomes 'Incentive Santa' in June

Summer’s here, and it’s never been a better time to please, please buy one of our cars, General Motors wants buyers to know.

The automaker plans to roll out a host of incentives during the month of June, Automotive News reports, to make up for a month that saw combined sales at all of its divisions sink 18 percent year-over-year.

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GM's Factory Shuffle Could Point to Big Electric Car Plans

Something electric could be brewing at General Motors, and we’re not talking about just the Chevrolet Bolt.

John Rosevear at the Motley Fool has an interesting take on what the future holds for Orion Assembly (the Michigan facility tapped to produce the Bolt this fall), and why GM seems to be keeping other models away from the plant.

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Chevrolet Really Wants Hip Young People to Think (and Buy) Small

The official launch of the first-generation Chevrolet Spark played out like a detective in a comedy film who has to go undercover in a high school, all the while clumsily pretending to be hip. It was an awkward pander to the Millennial first-time car buyer, set to too-carefully chosen music.

With refreshed and updated small car models on their way (or already here), General Motors wants young people to rediscover their often overlooked bottom-rung vehicles, so it left the marketing to experts.

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2017 Chevrolet Sonic: Makeover in the Shadows

Its bigger brother is getting a whole new body, but the Chevrolet Sonic isn’t going into 2017 without some changes of its own.

The subcompact hatchback and sedan will get its first facelift since debuting alongside its compact sibling for the 2011 model year, swapping its aggressive grille and headlamps for a toned-down, corporate face reminiscent of the upcoming Bolt.

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Chevrolet Sonic's U.S. Subcompact Market Share Is Plunging – Started Near The Top Now It's Here

GM’s share of America’s subcompact segment fell below 10% in the first-quarter of 2015 as Chevrolet Sonic volume tumbled 53%, year-over-year.

As a whole, the subcompact category is in decline in early 2015, but a large part of the category’s 9% drop can be attributed to the Sonic. Sales of the Sonic decreased by nearly 13,000 units over the last three months.

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  • EBFlex At the summer property putting boats in the water, leveling boat lifts, cleaning the lots for summer, etc. Typical cabin stuff in the most beautiful place on the planet
  • Lou_BC I've I spent the past few days in what we refer to as "the lower mainland". I see Tesla's everywhere and virtually every other brand of EV. I was in downtown Vancouver along side a Rivian R1T. A Rivian R1S came off as side street and was following it. I saw one other R1S. 18% of new vehicles in BC are EV'S. It tends to match what I saw out my windshield. I only saw 2 fullsized pickups. One was a cool '91 3/4 ton regular cab. I ran across 2 Tacoma's. Not many Jeeps. There were plenty of Porches, Mercedes, and BMW's. I saw 2 Aston Martin DBX707's. It's been fun car watching other than the stress of driving in big city urban traffic. I'd rather dodge 146,000 pound 9 axle logging trucks on one lane roads.
  • IBx1 Never got the appeal of these; it looks like there was a Soviet mandate to create a car with two doors and a roof that could be configured in different ways.
  • CAMeyer Considering how many voters will be voting for Trump because they remember that gas prices were low in 2020–never mind the pandemic—this seems like a wise move.
  • The Oracle Been out on the boat on Lake James (NC) and cooking up some hella good food here with friends at the lake place.